The Promise by Damon Galgut

A very unusual book. Beautifully written. crafted in fact. I feel I should go back and read it all over again and really indulge myself and relish the language. Unfortunately I am not going to do that, because I have so many other books to read. Quality over quantity, you say? I agree. In theory at least.
This is a book for slow, contemplative readers. The subtle asides, the nuanced descriptions, the dialogues and internal strugggles, all repay rumination and consideration. I feel I should give you an example. I believe that if I open the book on any page i will find a sentence which sums up what I have just said.
Here goes. I have opened the book at random. page 181:

” He finds himself, absurdly, weeping, just before Savage draws back the curtain. That is, the sheet.

My sister. Lying there. Dead. Unmistakeable. Astonishing,. Yes…..

With just the tiniest hint of reluctance, Savage pulls the sheet up again.”

The whole book is written in the present tense though it spans over forty years. It draws you into some of the hapless practicalities of recent South African history, and the realisation dawns on you gradually that perhaps the promise in question will never be kept. It is hard to tell.
The characters are mostly unpleasant and amoral – even immoral if we think about the purportedly religious ones, but as they grapple with their demons we begin to understand.
Finally Amor – is her name significant? – provides some sort of conclusion.

This book really deserves its accolades and prizes. But take your time when you read it and don’t treat it like pulp fiction, which seems to be my default mode. Very highly recommended. 

Let me know if you have read this book.

11 comments on “The Promise by Damon Galgut

  1. I haven’t read that book, but I did read, or at least start to read Shuggie Bain.
    It wasn’t for me, maybe it was the timing but when the world seemed to be somehow vile, reading about Shuggie and his somewhat less that glorious adventures didn’t really float my boat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read The Promise a couple of months ago. It’s a slow burn that takes the reader by surprise, but I can see why it won the Booker Prize. Damon Galgut will be attending the Sydney Writer’s Festival in a few weeks time and I’ve booked into two of his sessions. Lucky me!

    Liked by 1 person

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